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Variety: Too Spicy?

Harvard Business School has just given a name to a marketing trend that has made shopping particularly annoying lately. It’s called “overchoice” — giving consumers too much product variety. The expert on this, John Gourville, says too many choices can confuse. I agree. I’m sure we’ve all sat in restaurants, unable to choose from a menu with an abundance of mouth-watering selections.

I want to get a new TV. I’ve looked into the different types of high-definition sets (CRT, LCD, DLP, and plasma) and too many brands to mention. Once I finally decided which make I like, I had to look at their many models. It shouldn’t be this difficult to buy anything. Review websites help you make up your mind, but your ultimate choice is largely a shot in the dark.

Businesses should strive to make purchasing decisions easier for people. Companies could make product lines simpler. They could disperse information to help consumers make up their minds — and not just technical or scientific jargon. Such a strategy, obvious to some and yet not widely established, is the kind of practice that makes a particular brand appealing over others.

What product lines do you think could use some simplification?

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